Coming off a 3-3 tie with the George Brown Huskies one week ago, a game in which the Cambrian Golden Shield women's soccer team squandered a 3-0 lead, coach Evan Phillips and company did not need to be reminded just how important their rematch Saturday in Sudbury would be.
With playoff placement on the line, the locals spotted the Huskies an early 1-0 lead (Cynthia Pellegrino - 1st minute), pulling even in the 14th minute (Chelsie Sargeant) and picking up the critical game-winning goal in the 72nd minute, courtesy of rookie forward Julia Jajkowska.
"It was a beautiful through ball (from Taylor Bellini)," recollected Jajkowska, a 19 year-old native of Elmira. "It was a bit of a tough one, because I knocked it up, it hit their player and then bounced back to me, and I luckily got behind the ball and kicked it in. It was definitely an exciting goal, for sure."
A member of the Guelph Jr Gryphons (level 1) team that advanced to the Ontario Cup finals a couple of years ago, Jajkowska clearly understood the focus on the coaching message this week, one which centered on the Shield failings from one week ago. "Mentally, we had to really focus," she said. "We seem to struggle with what we call the "Fab Five"."
"That's the first five minutes of the first half, then coming into the second half, the first five minutes, and then the final five minutes. This game, we really improved our Fab Five." That, understandably, requires a complete team commitment, right across the pitch. Defensively speaking, freshman Becca Martin (Drayton, Ont) earned the coach's praise for the transition that she has made to an outside fullback position.
"I've mostly played forward, previously, so it was definitely different being back there today," said the 18 year old student in the Dental Assistant program. "I can use my aggressiveness in both areas, but you have to learn to stay back a lot more as a defender than a forward." With the win, Cambrian improves to 3-3-1 (10 pts), good for third place in the OCAA Central, three points clear of George Brown (2-4-1).
As for the Cambrian men, a sweep at the hands of the Huskies did not necessarily dampen the team's post-season aspirations, with a key home match-up with the University of Toronto – Mississauga Eagles closing the Shield regular season schedule on October 14th. Filipe Vilela was a one-man wrecking crew for George Brown on Saturday, netting a natural hat trick between the 42nd and 76th minutes.
David Nurali and Fares Akkari rounded out the scoring for the visitors, with Cambrian (2-5-0) hoping to hold on to fourth place and a play off spot ahead of the Eagles (1-5-0) when all is said and done.